Governor elections are back
But critics say that the new election law will not make regional governments more democratic.
From 1 June, Russians are again entitled to elect their governors in direct votes. However, the legislative change might not necessarily make regional governments more democratic.
In the new system, candidates for governor will have to successfully make it through two “filters”, one on the presidential level and one on the level of the regions. The law states that the President will be entitled to hold “consultations” with the political parties and their candidates, as well as with independent candiates, ahead of the votes. In addition, candiates need the support of between 5-10 percent of the members of the regions’ municipal councils. Independent candidates in addition need the signature of up to two percent of the regional electorate.
The Communist Party and the A Just Russia Party both argue that the two filters will enable the Kremlin and its regional elites to cut off opposition candidates, Newsru.com reports.
In addition, the regions will adopt their own versions of the law, and might, if they want, choose not to open up for independent candidates at all. In addition, the regional legislators will also determine the candidates’ necessary level of support from the municipal councils. The regional assemblies need to adopt their versions of the law by 1 July.
The bill presented to the Arkhangelsk legislative assembly by the regional election commission proposes not to allow the participation of independent candidates and to set the necessary support level from municipal councils to ten percent of the council members, Dvinainform.ru reports.
As previously reported, the bill originally presented by former President Dmitry Medvedev underwent a major revision by the two parliament chambers, the State Duma and the Federation Council.
Although in force from 1 June, it will take time before the first direct governors elections take place. Over the last few months, as many as 20 Russian regional leaders have been sacked and replaced by new people preferred by the Kremlin, reducing the number of regions in need of elections to a minimum. According to Kommersant, the first four elections are due to be held only in October.
None of the regions in the Russian part of the Barents Region will hold governors elections this year. Arkhangelsk Oblast, Murmansk Oblast and the Republic of Karelia have all new regional leaders, respectively Igor Orlov, Marina Kovtun and Aleksandr Khudilainen.